Dotted Blazing Star
A late summer splash of pinkish-purple on a dry, sandy hillside, or even the edge of a gravel road, draws attention to the dotted blazing star flower. The plant grows as a clump, 10–30 cm tall, with the flowers in a dense cluster along the top half of each stalk.
First Nations people called the plant “crow root” because they thought crows and ravens ate the root. They consumed the carrot-flavoured root in spring, and they made a tea from it for stomach aches. The boiled root was also applied to swellings. (Johnston 59)
Growth habit and range: This plant is an erect to decumbent, perennial herb which is commonly found on open sites and hillsides in the southern portion of the province. This plant grows to a height of 10–30 cm, and often is found in clustered groups.
Description: The leaves are alternate on the stems, stiff and linear, and measure 5–15 cm in length and 2–4 mm in width. The surface is covered with tiny dot-like depressions, and the leaf margins are hairy. The flowers appear from July to September, and are clustered on a dense, erect spike which measures 15 mm in width. Each flower head is comprised of 4–6 red-purple tubular florets, which together measure 12 mm in diameter. The fruit is a 6 mm long, pointed, ribbed greyish achene with a cluster of radiating, short bristles (pappus) at the distal end.
Johnston, Alex. 1987. Plants and the Blackfoot. Occasional Paper No. 15., Lethbridge Historical Society, AB.